Tag Archives: independent-journalism

Investigative journalism 2.0

newspaper_journalismSelf-described new media whore Paul Carr has an interesting take on the future of investigative journalism and publishing – the problem:

Talk to a random sample of journalists and they’ll tell you the same thing – no one commissions investigative journalism any more.

Talk to any editor and they’ll tell you why; it costs a fortune to produce and rarely adds anything in terms of circulation or bottom line.

In an era of plummeting circulation and competition from free online news sources, as far as a cost-benefits analysis of newspaper investigations goes, it’s all cost and no benefit.

Basically another example of the problem of monetizing content that costs a lot to produce but little to reproduce. After dismissing one Web 2.0 business that attempts to address the problems of investigative journalism called Spot Us Mr Carr proffers his own solution:

I’d kill it. Take it out to the shed and put a bullet through its brain. Its been sick since the mid-80s and watching it try to struggle for twenty more years is embarrassing at best and cruel at worst.

Walk in to any bookshop and go to the politics, culture, biography or current affairs section. Now tell me investigative reporting is dead.

Of course these are the big stories – what of the smaller, more immediate ones? TV news. It’s there first, it has money and access and it has a 24 hour cycle to fill, meaning that every lead gets followed and reported no matter how apparently inconsequential.

Online news sources have their part to play too, although, frankly, they can be divided into two camps – brand extension for established media companies or total horseshit. Blogs have a role – but it’s confined to fact checking and uninformed gadflyery.

This gadfly likes Carr’s idea of idea of a cheap, subscription book-service, slightly more in-depth than a typical article in The Economist but less heavy than (for example) the 464 pages of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army and you would also get a tighter, more focused, and original piece of reporting:

I’d approach an established publishing house with a business plan – a new imprint that publishes short (40,000 words maybe), low cover price (£4.99 tops) books, each written by a recognised investigative reporter and each dealing with a single investigative subject.

Also recommended is Paul Carr’s recently published book Bringing Nothing to the Party: True Confessions of a New Media Whore. It combines hilarious gonzo journalism with genuine insight from Paul Carr’s experience as a wannabe Web 2.0 entrepreneur.

[story from Paul Carr’s blog][image from dsearls on flickr]

Burmese government turns off internet to stop citizen journalists

A new way to report what’s going on but is it already under threat?Following on from Stephen’s post on Friday about satellite images of the crisis in Burma, I thought I’d talk about another thing that this incident is telling us about our future. As the troubles in Myanmar are continuing, Burmese have been uploading pictures, video and text relating the violence and atrocities to the web. Those outside the country are then spreading these documents to world news and blogs.

Last week, to combat this documentation of their transgressions, the Burmese government shut down many of their internet servers, closing off the pipeline for information to escape the country’s borders. Phones and cameras were smashed on the streets by the military. Although some internet functionality has returned, it’s becoming harder for people to get information out to us looking in, with most journalists refused entry to Burma. One enterprising ABC reporter snuck in to use his mobile phone for reports.

This for me is one of the key battlegrounds of the 21st century. The internet has made information and news freer than ever before. For some governments, companies and services this trends towards too much free information, presenting us with a classic conflict of interest between the user that wants content and those that do not. This week for example, AT&T changed its policy to allow users who criticise the company to be banned. The debate over Network Neutrality is a vital one to keep channels of communication open and help prevent future internet users having less functionality than we do today.

[ photo by Film Colourist ]